What Happened To Goodbye Might Remind You of Judy Blume

BlogHer Review

What Happened to Goodbye is a frothy summer read that takes on some serious issues teens face when they're about growing up. There aren't any vampires, werewolves or faeries, but that shouldn't dampen the appeal of Sarah Dessen's latest novel for teens and tweens. She has a solid understanding of the problems that real teens are facing in contemporary society. And while her target audience is teen and tween girls, women may also enjoy Dessen's easy writing style.

Conflict about family, friends and coming-of-age are at the heart of the story in What Happened to Goodbye. Dessen handles these topics in a realistic manner while her engaging writing style keeps the reader turning the page. What Happened to Goodbye would make a good selection for mother-daughter book clubs as a way to get generations talking about these subjects.

Teens should be able to immediately identify with Dessen's main character, Mclean. When her parents divorce Mclean ends up living like a traveling gypsy with her father as his job takes him from town to town. Angry and estranged from her mother, because of her affair and marriage to the coach of her father's favorite basketball team, McLean finds herself struggling to find her place in the world.

In each new town that she and her father move to, McLean gives herself a new name and takes on a new identity, until finally they move to a town that feels like home. Mclean uses her real name and starts to develop real relationships with the people who live there. Including the boy who lives next door, who holds a special place in her heart. From the moment they meet, McLean and Dave are drawn to each other. And when Mclean is faced with the repercussions from the choices she's made in her life, it's Dave that she turns to for comfort, support and maybe, even... could it be love?

The story of What Happened to Goodbye is simple, but the complex characters are fresh and realistic. McLean is facing conflicts that lots of real teens today are dealing with in their own lives and will be able to identify with. She is self-absorbed and independent, which is part of what leads her to being estranged with her mom. As she matures, slowly finds her way back to who she really is, and finds her way back to having a much-needed relationship with her mom.

What Happened to Goodbye isn't a sweeping epic that spans generations and continents like Twilight It isn't action-packed and dark like The Hunger Games. Rather, this realistic little story is set in small towns on the southeastern shore of the United States. The people in the story will remind readers of people that they know.

Dessen's writing style will remind readers of books by Judy Blume like Are You There God, It's Me, Margaret? and It's Not The End Of The World Much like Dessen, Blume's books took on subjects that really mattered to teenage girls. Tweens will enjoy a glimpse of the feelings and conflicts that they may be dealing with in the years to come. Teen girls may see a lot of themselves in the main character of What Happened to Goodbye. And adult readers may enjoy the book just for the nostalgia of remembering what it was like when you were seventeen and there was an intriguing boy living in the house next door.


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